Harold Gainer and Bob Race were a couple of retired cops with a soft spot for kids.
And, boy, did that soft spot make a difference in the lives of Schreiber kids.
Harold and Bob were two of the most dedicated volunteers for Schreiber’s Softball Weekend. The event returns June 4-6 for its 39th year, and it will be first since the two old friends passed away in September of 2020.
In their honor, the tournament portion of Softball Weekend has been renamed the Gainer-Race Memorial Tournament.
Denise Race, Bob’s widow, said he would be humbled.
“He’d say, ‘I don’t deserve this,” Denise said. “But I think he does. He did such a wonderful job for so many years. He and Harold both.”
Their work on Softball Weekend goes back a long way, to 1982. Harold started first. He was a young officer with the East Hempfield Police Department and the Financial Secretary with the Red Rose Lodge #16, Fraternal Order of Police.
“The lodge wanted to get involved in the community, and we chose Easter Seals (as Schreiber was formerly known) because it was the adopted charity of the (national) FOP,” Harold recalled in a 2015 interview. “We got together and kicked around ideas such as the festivals and dunk tanks and came up with the softball marathon idea. That first year we hoped to raise $5,000, but we ended up raising $17,500 — and we didn’t know what we were doing!”
Bob came on board a few years later. Both of them stayed all in until 2019, when health issues started taking their toll.
Thanks to their leadership and the continued involvement of the FOP, the event has raised around $2 million for Schreiber. It is the longest-running fundraising event that Schreiber does.
“Chiefy loved children,” Denise Race said, calling her late husband by her nickname for him. He was a retired chief from Pequea Township Police Department. “He would do anything for any child.”
That’s something the two men had in common.
“He loved reaching out to kids,” said Harold’s widow, Bobbie Gainer. “I think if I had to list his top three qualities, I’d say: caring, compassion and commitment. Harold had all three of those qualities wrapped up in a special place in his heart for Schreiber.”
Both men would look forward to softball, always the first weekend of June. They would be all in for the whole weekend, sleeping in cars and staying at the Stauffer Park and later Lancaster County Park or Froelich Park for 48 hours straight.
“He loved being part of it,” Bobbie said. “He loved the teams, being with the people. He loved seeing the kids there, too. He was proud of the FOP and the job they were doing.”
Bobbie and Denise and their families will be present at Froelich Park this year to help mark the start of another Softball Weekend and to remember the two men who played such an important part of it for so long.
“I can just imagine seeing Harold and Chiefy up in heaven having one heck of a good time,” Denise said.